Saturday, February 27, 2016

It's called being a dad

I've heard people talk about a household this week. I get the image of a post-apocalyptic dwelling where the children are in dirty, tattered rags; there are mountains of pizza boxes and fast food containers that are now homes to some sort of weird microbiology experiment; and the inhabitants are forced to drink the water from the toilet bowl or out of dirty puddles outside.


"Poor people," I think to myself. Who could live this way in our modern world? Then I realize they are talking about my household. Wait! I'm living here, and it's nothing like what they're describing. I even turned the tap on to check our access to clean water. Yep, still works—hot and cold.

See, my wife, who is a stay-at-home mom and home-based business owner, is out of town on a business trip, so I took the week off work to look after our four children, aged 4-13. The comments were about my ability (or lack thereof) to parent my children and manage the household. I'm quite shocked at the number of people who think—and verbalized their thoughts—that because I can grow a beard, I am incapable of anything other than teaching my children to scratch themselves and belch their ABCs while getting me another beer.

Even our oldest daughter piled-on just before my wife left. She said, "Yay, we get to go to Burger King and watch movies while Mom's gone." For the record, we went to BK once and watched one movie last time mom went away.

Don't get me started on the people who say I'm babysitting this week, or playing Mr. Mom. It's called being a dad. I don't babysit my children. I parent them. And I have zero interest in being another mom. My kids have a great one of those already. What they need is a dad.

Some people may be expressing their experiences with their own fathers, or maybe husbands. Maybe it's a generational thing or they just have bad experiences of men in their lives. But let's not be too hasty in stereotyping all males.

Here's the image you would get from my household this week if you took the time to ask what my week has been like instead of assuming the mouldy walls are crumbling around us.

The kids are clean, even behind the ears.

The kids are dressed in clean clothes. As shocking as it may sound to some, I know how to separate darks and whites and colours, I know how to work the washing machine and dryer, and I know how to follow cleaning labels to know what temperature to use and what needs to hang to dry.

The house is clean. And you get a slap if you're thinking, "But it's "man" clean." If by that you mean a person who has high standards of hygiene and cleanliness and who lives with someone who is a bit a germaphobe who can sniff out germs like an airport sniffer dog, then yes, I guess it's man clean. That includes cleaning up vomit from one of the kids who got the stomach bug and the extra laundry that always means. I even got a jump on some of the spring cleaning so we don't have to tackle those things later.

Everyone is well-fed and nourished. No fast food, no junk food. Only well-balanced meals to feed growing minds and bodies.

Everyone got to all of their activities. OK, I forgot our youngest's swimming lessons, but she has pink-eye and wouldn't have been able to go anyway. Yes, she's been getting her eye drops as directed.

I got a few little household projects checked-off my list.

We made time to have fun as a family. On top of the regular activities and homework, we have played games, had a family movie night, and we had an awesome snowball fight that the kids have been looking forward to for a while.

I'm not sharing any of this to brag or count myself as some super-dad. I'm a dad. Plain and simple. I take that role seriously, as I do my role as husband. I write this to try and earn a bit of respect for all dads out there who do an awesome job of being fathers and husbands and co-workers and children of God. We take it seriously, so please, take us seriously too.

Now, excuse me while I go help my son. He can only make it to "F" in one burp.

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